At current rate, it will take 50 years to achieve gender parity in parliaments globally

Although progress has been steady over the past few years, it is still excruciatingly slow and at the current rate, it will take another 50 years before gender parity is achieved in parliaments worldwide, the report states, adding that as at 1 January 2021, women accounted for 50 per cent or more of members in just three parliaments, include Rwanda, Cuba and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

In 2020, the global proportion of women in Parliaments reached a record 25.5 per cent, an increase of 0.6 points compared with 2019, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s (IPU) latest Women in Parliament report.

Every year, the IPU publishes a report to coincide with International Women’s Day on 8 March. Although progress has been steady over the past few years, it is still excruciatingly slow and at the current rate, it will take another 50 years before gender parity is achieved in parliaments worldwide, the report states, adding that as at 1 January 2021, women accounted for 50 per cent or more of members in just three parliaments, include Rwanda, Cuba and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

President of the IPU Forum of Women Parliamentarians Susan Kihika said: “While we note that a quarter of MPs in the world are women, we see how this still falls far short of representing half the world’s population. Unleashing the full potential of women who make up that 50 per cent should be our number one priority.”

IPU president Duarte Pacheco said: “Achieving gender equality in parliaments is a shared responsibility of men and women, and especially of men and women MPs, who by definition, are elected to lead. Only by working together and taking strong action can we move forward and accelerate the pace of change.”

IPU secretary general Martin Chungong said: “Progress is being made, but parliaments must be more open to women. They should be gender- sensitive and transform their functioning and structures to facilitate work-life balance for women and men, have zero tolerance towards all forms of violence against women in politics, promote legal change for better inclusion of women and be key actors in women’s political empowerment.”

Covid-19 and women’s political representation

The IPU Women in Parliament report shows that the Covid-19 pandemic had a negative impact on elections and campaigning in 2020. According to the report the national parliamentary elections were postponed in nearly 20 countries but went ahead in 57 countries overall in 2020.

The report points out that the economic downturn caused by the pandemic exacerbated existing gendered socio-economic inequalities, and adversely affected women’s ability to campaign for office and access campaign funding, however, the shift to remote, technology-driven parliamentary practices may have a potentially positive long-term impact for women in parliament.

The report further states that virtual voting and sittings have helped promote participation by members for whom travel is difficult, including those with disabilities or with young children. Flexible and remote workplace practices may allow more women and men to combine caring responsibilities with political career aspirations, it states.

Women in the top leadership in Parliaments

Globally, 58 women held speaker positions in 2020, an increase of one from the previous year, representing a global average of 20.9 per cent. Women held speaker positions in all regions of the world in 2020, with regional variations.

The United States made history in 2020 with the election for the first time of a woman as Vice President. Vice President Kamala Harris also constitutionally becomes President of the Senate. With Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House of Representatives, both chambers of the US Congress are now presided over by women.

Progress in all regions of the world in 2020

Despite political upheaval experienced across Latin America, in particular in Chile, Colombia and Ecuador, once again, the Americas outpaced other regions with women making up 32.4 per cent of MPs, the report states, adding in the United States, 2020 marked the highest levels in history of women’s representation in its national legislature, at 26.9 per cent of the two chambers combined.

The report highlights that despite grave security challenges, in sub-Saharan Africa, Mali and Niger made significant gains in women’s representation.

In Europe, of 14 parliamentary renewals in 2020, four countries ~ Ireland, Serbia, North Macedonia and France ~ witnessed women’s representation exceeding 30 per cent in at least one chamber while three countries ~ Azerbaijan, Czech Republic and Romania ~ failed to reach the 20 per cent mark, points out the report.

Within the Middle East and North Africa region, although Egypt reached historic highs for women in parliament thanks to a new quota law for the House of Representatives but as a whole, the proportion of women in parliament in the region is the lowest among all regions at 17.8 per cent, all chambers combined, the report noted.

The report said gains in Asia were driven by women’s representation in the upper houses of Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Of parliamentary renewals in 2020, only Nepal exceeded 30 per cent women, sustaining a strong track record on women in parliament over the past decade, it says.

In contrast to other regions, women’s representation in parliaments in the Pacific remained consistently low or entirely absent in elections held in 2020 except New Zealand, the report states.

New Zealand’s new parliament made history with more women, people of colour, LGBTQ+ and Maori MPs than at any time in the past.




LEAVE A COMMENT

Name
Mobile No
Email*
Your Comment *
Top